Starting Movies – Of Mice And Men Essay

Cinema is growing ever more competitive, with films constantly battling out to reach the ‘top spot’. More and more money is being injected into film projects and invested in young, up and coming actors. Perhaps the most important part of a film is its beginning. It is essential that a link is created between an audience and some aspect of a story early on in a film so that a viewer does not lose interest. This ‘link’ is often established in the first five minutes, to do so moviemakers often focus on one or two of the following:

* Establishing character(s)

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* Establishing an important location

* Establishing a genre

* Establishing a mood or atmosphere

* Starting the narrative

* Grabbing the audiences attention (often in an action sequence)

* Setting up a mystery

In the first five minutes of the smash hit film ‘Enemy Of The State’ the story concentrates on establishing characters and their relationship. Writing appearing on the screen straight away tells the place and time, the font is plain and green/white, which is typical of a detective or action film. The rest of the scene is completely about two people called Phil and Thomas. Thomas calls Phil things like senator and Mr Chairman, stating clearly that Phil is an important figure obviously working in politics. It is also clear that they work together in some way, as Phil says to Thomas ‘what u doing here, this isn’t my office’. Then them calling each other by their first names and saying things like ‘I have helped you out in the past’ shows their old friendship.

There are also lots of quick shots, slow creepy music and the shot is framed. These all build up tension and emphasize the importance of many parts. In the form of visual language the body language between the two men is friendly but starts to deteriorate as one becomes rough. They are both dressed in suits, which send connotations to the audience of power and wealth.

There are many advantages and problem involved with the screen adaptation of ‘Of Mice And Men’. The novel tells the tale of two itinerant farm workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, in their struggle and failure to achieve their dreams in the harsh depression years of 1930s America.

As the story has already been a hugely successful book and has been seen on the ‘silver screen’ twice it already has an enormous fan base. This means that any producers working on a new version of a film would have to be aware that there is a huge ‘hype’ from previous films to follow.

The first version of the film, directed by Milestone was quite simple. Most of the scenes were shot in one go using one continuous shot. Although this was probably to save money and time (in editing and filming) I think it worked quite well because it meant George and Lennie were in most the shots together. This really enforced their friendship, because it makes a viewer start to associate the two. I would like to use this in my film.

The second movie was directed by Sinise in 1992. It was a lot more complicated than the first film, as there were a wider range of shots (from zoom to long) and cleverer editing. This was mostly because of more able technology and bigger budget. One thing that I noticed (in comparison to the first film) was the way in which Lennie was represented. In the first version he was just simple, but in this one he was portrayed to actually have a mental illness or disability. I think that when Milestone made his version it would be offensive for a viewer to see such things on the screen, but because of the change in social attitudes and taboos in 1992 it was fine to show this. Obviously in more recent times the ‘shock factor’ for things like this has decreased because it has slowly been broken down by filmmakers getting more and more daring. I think this too was good because it made me as a viewer sympathise even more with Lennie- so I would like to put this in my film.

The start of the Sinese film was very effective. Straight away the characters relationship is thrown at the audience, with George commanding Lennie to ‘take off the coat’, ‘lie down and get some rest’. These are very mothering types of orders, which show the bossy nature of George. I think this would be important to get across in the opening of my film.

Any screenplay writers would have to stay true to the original text in order to avoid a disappointed audience, who would probably already be familiar with the book. However there would be opportunities to set parts of the films in locations that are completely unexplored in the tale. When Stienback wrote the novel he obviously had a stage version in mind as each chapter is set in one location. Although this would be practical in a theatre in a cinema an audience could easily get bored with the lack of change of places and scenery. Perhaps past situations could be shown and explored more fully. Instead of just getting told by characters speech.

It is good to give a film a genre as it gives the audience an idea of what to expect – because they attach certain conventions to a type. For example anyone going to see a horror film would expect to be scared and see some element of revenge (involving murders). They would expect to see props like knifes, candles, blood and a clever use of shadows and eerie music. I think ‘Of Mice And Men’ would fit the genre of a drama because it has a mixture of emotions, an escalating storyline, and a big unresolved climax at the end.

Of course, when making any media product there is a risk that it might not be successful. I think the main way of overcoming this is by attaching a big ‘star’ to the film. This is partly the reason why I have chosen to cast Tom Cruise as George. I have also chosen him because he is short, as is George’s character. To build a contrast with this I would cast John Travolta as Lennie. This would be good because John has an older fan base, so it would attract a wider audience to the film. Unfortunately John isn’t as tall as Lennie should be, but this can be overcome by taking shots of him from a lower angle, like in ‘Lord of The Rings’ when looking at Gandolf or ‘Harry Potter’ when looking at Hagrid.

The process of promotion is also plays an important part in a films success. As well as the traditional process of actors doing promotional tours, film posters and bus adverts I would plan to do a major re-launch of the book to coincide with the release of the film. This way the two texts would advertise each other, for example, if someone enjoyed the film it may influence them to buy the book. This could make the producers a lot of money.

As my film would attract an older audience (due to its overall seriousness) I would want the actors to appear on TV shows with a mature audience. A program like Richard and Judy would be good as it appeals to middle aged people. Very Graham Norton would also be good because its target audience are people in their mid-twenties, which are probably the cinemas biggest customers.

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